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This section contains media releases released a little while ago. Please note that due to the long time when some of these were released images have been removed and some links might no longer work.

August 25, 2014

As flu numbers rise, West Coasters are encouraged to get vaccinated now

Time is running out for those who are eligible to get a free flu vaccination. Act now and avoid flu putting a dent in your spring plans but remember free flu vaccinations are only available to those who are eligible until the end of this month August 31.

Dr Cheryl Brunton, West Coast Medical Officer of Health, says although flu vaccination uptake on the Coast has improved this year, it's still not high enough to protect vulnerable people from the serious consequences of influenza.

"Influenza can be particularly severe for pregnant women, people aged 65 and older or people who have long-term health conditions such as asthma, cardiovascular disease or diabetes. For these groups the vaccination is free," Dr Brunton says.

Influenza-like illness rates on the West Coast have risen in the last month and Dr Brunton says it's not uncommon for flu numbers to peak late in August or even September.

"If you haven't taken steps to protect yourself, you are still at risk. Although seasonal flu is associated with winter you can get it at any time of year, especially if you travel. The time to get immunised is before that can happen."

People who are fit and healthy are still at risk from influenza, Dr Brunton says.

"All it takes is for an infected person to cough or sneeze near you or for you to touch something they have touched.

"Health professionals recommend everyone gets the vaccine every year. If you don't qualify for a free flu vaccination, it will typically cost $30-50 at your general practice or in some pharmacies.

"Even if you think flu won't get you this year, how would you feel if you did get flu and passed it on to a young child or older person who is not so able to fight the infection? Please think again - do it for your family and community- if you can't get it, you can't give it. Make getting the flu vaccine your contribution to ensuring everybody has a healthy spring and a summer to remember."

National Influenza Specialist Group (NISG) spokesperson and general practitioner, Dr Nikki Turner, says it is still worthwhile being immunised.

"Influenza is much more than a 'bad cold' - it is a serious disease that can lead to complications and can be fatal especially for people with ongoing medical conditions," Dr Turner says.

"We are now seeing many cases of influenza in the community. Sadly, people have died and many more have been hospitalised with influenza symptoms. Perhaps sadder still is that getting the best possible protection is as simple as making a phone call to your general practice team for an appointment."

Influenza symptoms can develop suddenly. Within just a few hours symptoms can progress from feeling a bit unwell, to being too ill to do much other than go to bed.

"A high fever, headache, a dry cough and other symptoms usually last seven to 10 days but to get back to your normal energy levels can often take longer still."

For free information about flu, visit:
www.immune.org.nz/diseases/influenza

For health advice call your general practice team.

-Ends-

For more information please contact:

Lee Harris,
Senior Communications Advisor
West Coast District Health Board
e: 
t: +64 27 836 1528

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